the Maginot Line after WWII

In 21st century military slang “maginot mentality” is a derogatory description of outdated strategies, particularly those centered on fixed fortifications. The term comes from France’s Maginot Line which during WWII, failed spectacularly to stop Germany from overrunning France.

Histories of the Maginot Line usually conclude with the French capitulation in 1940. However the Maginot Line actually came close to being partially reactivated after WWII, and still later some of the emplacements served on in secondary or repurposed roles, in one case into the new millennium.

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(The Maginot Line ouvrage at Hochwald, during WWII and during the early 21st century.)

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(A bloc of the Rochonvillers installation of the Maginot Line being “nuclear hardened” by new construction during 1982.) (photo via marblehome.com website)

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merry Christmas 2022

Wishes for a merry Christmas season to all readers of wwiiafterwwii.
Below is Christmas 1945, the first after peace came, aboard the WWII attack transport USS Selinur (AKA-41).

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Santa Claus has exchanged his red cap for a US Marine Corps campaign cover.

USS Selinur was an Artemis class attack transport. The Artemis class could not beach itself but could put 264 troops directly ashore via LCVPs and LCMs. They also transported 980t of supplies. The 426′-long Artemis class displaced 7,080t fully loaded however the hullform was optimized with a full draught of only 16′, allowing it to get close to shore during amphibious assaults and also use minor staging ports in the Pacific. They had one Mk12 5″ gun, four Mk2 twin 40mm AA guns, and several 20mm light guns.

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(USS Selinur in the Marshall Islands during August 1945, when the final invasion of the Japanese home islands was being planned.) (photo via navsource website)

USS Selinur commissioned on 21 April 1945. A peaceful Christmas after WWII’s end in September 1945 was probably extra-welcomed by the ship’s crew as it had been slated to participate in operation “Olympic”, the first amphibious landings in the Japanese home islands; set for either the end of 1945 or early 1946. The US Navy expected heavy amphibious ship losses and was probably correct. Postwar interviews with Imperial Japanese Army pilots revealed that, with the sea war already effectively lost, they were going to ignore American battleships and cruisers and instead direct everything against amphibious ships.

Instead, USS Selinur ended WWII repositioning forces in the Philippines and landing occupation troops in Japan.

USS Selinur and the Artemis class overall had a very limited career after WWII, other than two ships sold to the Chilean navy. The US Marine Corps was downsizing after WWII and correspondingly there was a lesser need for ships to move them. USS Selinur decommissioned in 1946 after only 13 months of service, an expensive thing seeing little use which was common in the late-1940s US Navy.

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(USS Selinur being deactivated at Philadelphia, PA in 1946. The small WWII subchaser tied up was presumably also doing the same.) (photo via Philadelphia Evening Bulletin newspaper)

The disarmed ex-USS Selinur was loaned to the Pennsylvania Maritime Academy as T.S. Keystone State for training merchant sailors. It only served one year in that role, before being mothballed in 1947. It was never reactivated and scrapped in 1968.

Belgium’s forgotten .30-06 Mauser

Strictly speaking, Belgium’s Mle. 50 rifle, a .30-06 Springfield Mauser-type design, does not belong here as it was a post-WWII weapon. As far as being unique, it was not the last bolt-action military rifle made after WWII, nor was it the only one using .30-06. None the less, it remains a forgotten “final bookend” of the bolt-action era which largely faded away with the end of WWII in 1945: It combined the USA’s WWII rifle cartridge, probably the best of the war, with the operating features of European rifles, like Germany’s 98k, which had dominated conflicts for half a century. This rifle was a last hurrah of WWII’s generation.

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(FN Mle. 50 rifle.)

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(A Congolese soldier with a Mle. 50 rifle during 1964.)

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what happened to Japan’s WWII aircraft companies after 1945

When WWII began in 1939 Japan was an aeronautical giant; one of the top five aerospace powers on Earth. Six years later the industry lay in ruins and a year after that, no longer even existed on paper.

With the possible exception of Mitsubishi, very little was ever written about Japanese aerospace companies before WWII and most were unknown outside of their homeland; in contrast to companies like Messerschmitt or Boeing which were famous worldwide. Nearly no attention at all was given to what happened to them after WWII.

A study of their final fates also has a second story. This is how defense contractors – which dominated Japan’s GDP during the early 1940s – were dismantled in a controlled way to limit the “contagion” of their loss to the wider postwar economy.

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(Mitsubishi’s bombed-out factory at Nagoya at the end of WWII.)

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(The Nakajima Aircraft corporate offices in Ota during the post-WWII American occupation. Today a Subaru factory; one of Nakajima’s descendants, is on these grounds.)

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WWII weapons in Liberia

Military history of Liberia is often covered only in the context of the civil wars fought between 1990 – 1997 and 1999 – 2003. Before those tragic conflicts, Liberia had an odd and unique army, mirroring the unusual story of the nation as a whole.

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(US Army soldiers in Liberia during WWII. They are armed with M1903 Springfields and a M1917, both of which would be used by the Liberian army after WWII.)

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(Liberian soldiers loading M1 Garands during the 1980 coup.)

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(A modified M1917A1 guarding a roadblock near Monrovia during 1992.)

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(A guerilla loyal to the warlord Charles Taylor during the 1990s, armed with a WWII Soviet PPS-43. Child soldiers were used by Taylor in outrageous numbers; at points more than half his force was under the international military age of 17.)

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the 98k in Iraq

When I began wwiiafterwwii almost seven years ago, this was one of the first subjects I intended to cover. At that time Iraq was still a current topic, and I thought it would be easy to document the 98k’s history there.

As it turns out, the WWII German 98k in Iraq is complex and full of caveats; poorly-covered by substantive sources. So it took a tad bit longer than planned to complete. Hopefully this subject is still of interest.

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(A 98k rifle captured by the US Marine Corps during the post-2003 occupation.)

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(A heavily-modified Mauser rifle captured by American troops.) (photo via Silah Report)

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(A 98k manufactured by Mauser Werke in 1940. This was a WWII German, post-WWII Czechoslovak-refurbished, then ex-East German gun – an indirect route not uncommon for Iraqi 98ks. The jeem marking on the receiver and barrel is Iraq’s property marking.) (photo via gunboards online forum)

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“jumboized” WWII warships

After WWII the US Navy modernized war-built vessels to various degrees for many reasons. Many options were available: new weapons, new radars and sonars, enlarged superstructures, new radios, adding or removing aircraft capability, replacement engines, layout changes, and so on.

Normally one thing that couldn’t be changed was the physical size of the hull. Things could be added, moved, replaced, altered, or rebuilt inside or atop the hull; but at the end of the day the WWII hull was what it was.

In the examples below, extremely dramatic “surgery” actually changed the length and size of the entire ship.

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(Not a case of seeing double: the bow and stern sections of USS Navasota (AO-106) pointed in opposite directions during the WWII warship’s 1960s “jumboization”.)

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(The WWII submarine tender USS Proteus (AS-19) cut completely in half during 1959. This “jumboization” was one of the most complex engineering jobs ever done prior to the computer age.)

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happy Independence Day 2022 / Andrews Barracks in Berlin

For readers of wwiiafterwwii in the United States, I would like to extend wishes for a happy July 4th, our nation’s 246th birthday.

Below is a quite unusual Independence Day scene, taken in Berlin on 4 July 1945 – the first Independence Day after the European part of WWII ended and while combat in the Pacific was still underway.

The damaged building which both the Stars & Stripes and Hammer & Sickle are flying above, was the WWII headquarters of the 1st Waffen-SS Panzer Division, the LSSAH  (Liebstandarte SS Adolf Hitler) as can be seen on the cornice of the building atop the four columns.

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the Mosin-Nagant in Romania after WWII

During WWII the Mosin-Nagant was the Soviet army’s standard longarm. After WWII, all of the client communist nations in eastern Europe used it. The case of Romania is interesting in that its run predated WWII itself, and continued right to the end of the Cold War in 1989.

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(Mosin-Nagant M44 carbine of Romania’s brief post-WWII production run.) (photo via National Rifle Association)

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(“Instructie” stamp on a Romanian Mosin-Nagant.)

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(Members of Romania’s Gărzile Patriotice (Patriotic Guards) march with WWII Mosin-Nagants during the 1970s.)

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